For a world renowned athlete, it might be tricky to share your honest opinion - especially if it is at odds with that of the rulers of your own country. Rafael Nadal learned this the hard way, as his critical remarks on the Spanish government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic received a lot of backlash from politicians.
But the 19-time Grand Slam champion has found support from a very familiar figure - David Ferrer. Nadal's compatriot and former Davis Cup teammate, who has also been a Roland Garros runner-up, fully backed the Mallorcan in an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca,
The now retired Ferrer pointed out how important it is for an athlete to have his own voice, irrespective of whether it is to project a popular opinion or an unpopular one. Ferrer believes the barrage of insults that has come the way of Rafael Nadal is totally unjustified.
"It hurts me very much that an athlete cannot give his opinion. I do not like criticism with demagoguery. I do not like the insult, you can agree with an athlete or not, but not deny him that he expresses himself.
I know Rafa Nadal and his family and it hurts. He is a very coherent person. What happens? That his opinion is worth less than that of the others? It only lacks that he could not say what he is thinking."
There have been mistakes: Rafael Nadal on the Spanish government
Spain is one of the worst affected countries by the COVID-19 outbreak. Out of the 4 million odd people affected worldwide, Spain has accounted for over 262,000 cases and has had more than 26,000 deaths.
The country is in second place globally, only behind USA, in terms of number of infections reported.
The staggering figures and the quick rate of spread have naturally elicited strong responses from Spanish citizens, with Rafael Nadal being one of the most vocal among them. Known for being frank and pragmatic, the former World No. 1 took the opportunity to speak his mind in a recent video interview with La Voz de Galicia.
The southpaw did not mince his words, as he unequivocally slammed the way things have been managed in the country.
"I do not care if they are governing left, right, center ... I do not care at all. When I speak, I do not speak thinking about politics. I speak as a citizen, without thinking if the Popular Party, the Party is governing Socialist, Citizens, Podemos or Vox. What I want is for those who are governing to do so in the best possible way for everyone."
Rafael Nadal knows that as a famous personality his words are bound to be under extra scrutiny, so he stopped short of directly naming any official.
"If you ask me how it has been managed, I prefer to keep my opinion to myself and I have it very clear. It is a bit sad, because anyone can say anything on social networks, but because of who I am it seems that I have less option to comment."
Nadal did, however, assert that slip-ups have been made, and he urged the authorities to recognize and rectify them as soon as possible. Not owning up to your blunders will only lead to further damage, the 33-year-old pointed out.
"There have been mistakes and it is human to recognize mistakes ... Everyone understands that politicians are wrong, it is human, I make mistakes every day. What I like less is when mistakes are not recognized, because you stop having credibility," said Nadal.